Antarctic seas

Jonathan S. Stark, Tania Raymond, Stacy L. Deppeler, Adele K. Morrison

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The Southern Ocean connects three major ocean basins, and is vitally important in driving global ocean circulation and climate. It is the only ocean that completely encircles the planet uninterrupted by any significant land mass and is strongly affected by sea ice coverage. A series of oceanic fronts and strong circumpolar currents isolates the Antarctic region from the northern oceans. Major up- and downwelling systems in the Southern Ocean drive a globally significant drawdown of heat and carbon from the atmosphere, and also provide nutrients to important ecosystems that support an incredible diversity and abundance of life. Primary productivity is highly spatially and temporally variable, driven by regional differences in sea ice extent and seasonality (patterns of annual advance, retreat, and duration), wind, and surface current patterns. Past resource exploitation (sealing, whaling, and fishing, sequentially) may have caused major perturbations to Southern Ocean ecosystems. Modern human presence and impacts are relatively low compared with other regions with the main pressures associated with fishing, tourism, and Antarctic stations. Management of the Southern Ocean and its resources is via major international treaties and agreements, principally the Antarctic Treaty system (ATS) of which the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources is a key component. The Southern Ocean is likely to be profoundly affected by global climate change and is critical to the evolution of past, present, and future climate.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWorld Seas
Subtitle of host publicationAn Environmental Evaluation Volume I: Europe, the Americas and West Africa
Number of pages44
ISBN (Electronic)9780128050682
ISBN (Print)9780128052020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


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